(In the Plain of Abydos)
Like a black ghoul upon his heap
Of clods, the slinger sits all day;
That so the harvestman may reap,
He needs must scare the birds away.
Then up he rises, flings aside
His ‘abba’ of dark camel’s hair,
And stands aloft, in strength and pride,
And shines, bronze-hued of skin, and bare.
He takes his palm-rope sling in hands,
Puts on his thumb the twisted thong,
Then whirrs, and thro’ the humming strands
The air is shaken into song.
And suddenly a ringing crack
Above the silent corn is heard,
Forth flies the stone upon its track,
Forth hies the startled robber-bird.
Ah I would to heaven, above our patch
Of fruit, for mortals in our day,
Such slinger stood, so true to watch,
So sure to scare ill thoughts away.
(Idylls and Lyrics of the Nile, p. 97)